No Exit for ‘Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo’ By Isa Goldberg Padding gracefully from side-to-side in his cage, Robin Williams embodies the essence of Tiger. It’s the walk, the measured soundless steps of a great big cat and the growl he emits from his phlegmy throat, which transform the hypermanic comedian into a carnivorous beast in “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.” Surly and pining for home, Williams’s Tiger is at first an understated character – comically cynical and justifiably angry at his imprisonment.
‘Good People’ in a Bad Economy and a Lackluster Play
By: Isa Goldberg In the Coen brothers’ movies, Frances McDormand often portrays characters who stupidly get into a lot of trouble. Her ability to screw things up makes for the absurd dark comedy, “Burn After Reading” in which McDormand, a gym employee, tries to raise money for her plastic surgery by blackmailing an ex-CIA agent (John Malkovich) and alternately peddling his memoirs to the Russian embassy. With plastic surgery and her new beau (George Clooney) on her mind, she barely seems to notice the disappearance of her best buddy (Brad Pitt).
Playing to Win By Isa Goldberg The male characters in Jason Miller’s1973 Pulitzer and Tony-winning drama do not evoke a lot of empathy. They score with the audience because they are all too recognizable – like the imperfect men with whom we live every day.
Race, sex and rock ‘n roll are a powerful combination in the new Broadway musical Memphis written by David Bryan, and Joe DiPietro. The sizzling new musical is a sheer delight and somewhat of a surprise with no star headliners, but don’t tell these passionate performers. The cast is an absolute knock out!
The songs by Bryan, Bon Jovi’s lead keyboardist, are a nice mix of R&B, soul, period pop, gospel and easy listening that make for a captivating blend. Last season Bryan joined forces off-Broadway with DiPietro on the winning musical The Toxic Avenger and here with Memphis they have improved their winning stride with a love story that takes us to the smoky underground clubs of segregated 1950 Memphis and the birth of an era.
By: Isa Goldberg If it all goes as expected, physical mutilation will earn lots of Oscar Award-winning kudos this year. From “Black Swan” to “True Grit” and “127 Hours”, bloody atrocities – the shock of cutting up and amputating – are having a heyday. It seems the only way out of this physically handicapping genre is social networking, a far less threatening form of human communication. Perhaps that explains its popularity. At this rate, it’s easier to prefer Facebook.
‘The Three Sisters’ as Sweeping, Contemporary Epic
By: Isa Goldberg Trapped in a small town and an unhappy marriage, Masha (Maggie Gyllenhaal) falls in love with Vershinin (Peter Sarsgaard), a soldier whose wife suffers from chronic illness. Olga (Jessica Hecht), Masha’s older sister, is a spinster with no life outside of the school where she works. The youngest sister, Irina (Juliet Rylance), dreams of going to Moscow.
ROOM 17B at 59E59 Theaters has been extended for a third time adding a second performance on Sunday, February 6 at 12:30 PM. This nifty unique theatrical experience is loads of fun and flies by in just over an hour. Little more than a series of sketches set in a competitive office setting and performed to perfection by four talented actor/clowns (Mike Dobson, Joel Jeske, Danny Gardner and Brent McBeth) ROOM 17B directed impeccably by Mark Lonergan is sure to keep you grinning from ear to ear. Catch it while you can! PC
The New York Premiere of AMERICAN SEXY by Trista Baldwin, a brutally honest depiction of four young adults coming to grips with their sexual values, opened Downstairs @ The Flea on Saturday January 29, 2011. The play, which features four actors, Satomi Blair (Lexi), Scott Morse (Andy), Nicky Schmidlein (Jessica) and Ron Washington (Darren), from The Flea’s resident acting company, The Bats, takes a scorching look at sexuality in the digital age and marks the directorial debut of Mia Walker.
Pamela Rose with Wild Women of Song – Great Gal Composers of the Jazz Era
By: Linda Amiel Burns
Pamela Rose brought a terrific show to Feinstein’s at The Regency Hotel on January 7, 2011 for one night only! She and her band are from San Francisco really rocked the room. Her musicians were superb with Tammy Hall on piano, Ruth Davies on bass, Kent Bryson on drums and Kristen Strom on Sax. The theme was about the women of the Jazz era who wrote great songs and have not been given the credit or recognition they deserve.
By: Patrick Christiano From audience reaction the new musical The Addams Family, based on the beloved cartoon characters created by Charles Addams for the “New Yorker” magazine in 1938, is destined to be a long running smash hit. With the opening strains of the overture we hear the spectators clapping and snapping along with Vic Mizzy’s familiar theme song from the cult classic television show.
By Ellis Nassour Songs My Mother Taught Me, at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency through Sunday, is Lorna Luft’s tribute to mom Judy Garland. It’s a magical trip down the yellow brick road. Luft early on says that mom JG kidded her about preferring "the loud songs." Evidently, mama knew this gal was a belter. The show, penned by TV variety sketch veterans Ken and Mitzi Welch [Carol Burnette shows, a Streisand TV special], opens on a poignant note: JG on her TV variety series singing to her young daughter a song specially written for her by Johnny Mercer, "Lorna."
The music of the rock band Green Day has made the scene on Broadway in what many may consider the best musical of the 2009/2010 season.And credit goes to director Michael Mayer, who has fashioned Green Day’s smash 2004 concept album into an arrestingly fresh stage adaptation. Mayer along with Billie Joe Armstrong, the band’s lead guitarist and vocalist share credit for the book of the 90 minute rock opera, whose score also includes songs from the band’s subsequent Grammy winning release, “21st Century Breakdown,” which passionately captures the frustrations of the post September 11 generation.
RICHARD SKIPPER AS CAROL CHANNING IN CONCERT opened Thursday January 13, 2011 at St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 West 46th Street, on restaurant row. Skipper’s glowing tribute to the theatrical legend directed by Mark Robert Gordon celebrated Channing’s marvelous career and her unique persona with loving panache. Accompanied by a three -piece band Skipper performed Channing’s standards along with some witty original material while never slipping out of character. His spontaneous interactions with his audience was always poised and charming as he delighted the opening night audience with stories and songs that captured the legend’s essence perfectly. A portion of the proceeds benefitted The Dr. Carol Channing & Harry Kullijuan Foundation for the Arts. PC Photography: Barry Gordin
FRANK AND TONY AND PEGGY AND ME Making music with the Great Singers –
Celebrating Bucky Pizzarelli’s 85th Birthday! By Linda Amiel Burns The weekend of January 8-10 was another sold out weekend at the 92nd Street Y for the first show of the 2011 season of the Lyrics & Lyricists Series celebrating the 85th birthday of Bucky Pizzarelli. It was a family affair with son John Pizzarelli as the charming host who also led the six-piece band of incredible musicians, which included brother Martin Pizzarelli on bass and daughter in law Jessica Molaskey on vocals. She also helped put the concert together and surprisingly shares the January 9th with her famous father-in-law.
Acclaimed soprano Sondra Radvanovsky made quite a splash last night at the Met as Floria in Puccini’s drama-filled, romantic Tosca., It was a glorious, passionate occasion – a much more celebrated occasion than her Leonora in Il Trovatore. The night had more of its share of the unexpected.